Recipe: Bacon and Veggies Potato Croquettes (감자 고로케)

Ah potatoes, my love.

Like the scene in Forrest Gump when Bubba lists all the different ways to prep shrimp, you could list all the different ways you could prepare potatoes and I'm nearly certain I'd love each and every one.

After all, how can one turn down something as simple yet satisfying like mashed potatoes, right? But what if it was mashed potatoes with bacon, cheese, and other goodies nestled inside? Or what if it was mashed potatoes with bacon, cheese, and other goodies inside that's been breaded and then fried???

Drooling yet? Good. Because that's essentially what today's recipe is. Since being introduced by the Europeans, croquettes have become a wide East Asian favorite in bakeries and snack shops after going some adaptations to local tastes. In Korea, for example, croquettes stuffed with kimchi (of course) are a popular snack item as are other unusual but still delectable fillings like curry or cream cheese.

I'll admit these little guys are a bit cumbersome to make but make a big batch like below and you'll be good to have plenty of these little croquettes for snacks or an addition to your lunch box. I particularly enjoyed them while watching the recent Winter Olympics (yes I know, somewhat of an oxymoron to eat these fried goods while watching the biggest international sports competition there is...) but they'd be a hit for any gathering or party too.

The filling is also easily adaptable. You can add or subtract certain vegetables, add in exotic ingredients like fried kimchi, or go for the luxurious and add some cream cheese in the center. This recipe is a basic bacon, cheese and veggie potato croquette which is awesome with just a little dab of ketchup and hot sauce in my opinion.

Bacon and Veggie Potato Croquette (감자 고로케)
Makes about 20 mini croquettes

You'll need:
- 5 potatoes, peeled 
- 1 small Onion, diced
- 1 small Carrot, diced
- 1/2 cup of Mushrooms, diced (I used oyster mushrooms on hand but feel free to use button or other)
- 6 slices of Bacon
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheese (I just had sliced American on hand so I tore them up and used about 3 slices)
- 1 Scallion, diced
- 1 Egg
- 4 tbsp of Milk
- 1 tsp of minced Garlic
- A few tbsp of Flour as needed (if your mashed potato is too wet)
- Few pinches of Salt and Pepper

For the coating and frying:
- 1.5 cups of Flour or Frying Powder
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 1 cup of Breadcrumbs or Panko
- 5-6 cups of Oil, suitable for frying (Canola, Peanut, etc)

1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add in your washed potatoes to cook, approximately 10 minutes or until you can easily poke into a potato with a knife. Leaving the skin on during the boiling process and then peeling the skin later is easier than peeling the skin from the beginning.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, add the diced onion, carrot, and mushrooms to a medium-high heated pan with some oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Fry up the bacon slices as well to your desired texture (crisp, limp, etc).

3. When the potatoes are done cooking, let cool but while they're still warm, rub off the skin (they should come off easily) and discard the skin. Put the potatoes in a large bowl (I just used the same empty pot) and add in the milk, minced garlic, and egg and begin mashing the potatoes up

4. Add in the cooked diced vegetables, crumble in the bacon, and add the diced scallion and cheese. Give a few pinches of salt and pepper and mix it up so everything is incorporated. A few small lumps of potato is fine. Give a taste test to see whether you want some more seasonings in there. If the mixture is looking too wet, add in a tablespoon of flour at a time until the mixture isn't too wet or dry.

5. Now get your coating station ready. Put the flour and breadcrumbs on separate plates. Crack the eggs into a bowl and mix.

6. Begin forming the potato mixture into a small ball, the size of a donut hole, then dip and coat in the flour, dunk into the egg mixture, and then roll in the breadcrumbs and set the mini croquettes on a plate. You can, of course, choose to make a larger size croquette.

7. Heat a pot with the frying oil on medium-high. When you add in a bit of breadcrumb and it's bubbling and frying you're ready. Carefully add in the croquettes, one-by-one, to the frying oil. Don't overcrowd and give them space from one another. They fry up surprisingly fast within a minute or so, so get ready to turn them over and cook their other side the same.

8. When they're finished frying, set them on a plate with paper towels to catch the excess oil. Repeat with the unfried croquettes until they're all done cooking.

You can drizzle ketchup, sriracha, or whatever favorite condiment on top or on the side for dipping. They're tasty on their own too. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Pop them in the microwave for a minute to heat them back up!

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside!

Good as a snack, good with rice, great with a cold beer.

I love ya, potatoes.